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Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole with Kielbasa

Cheesy Hashbrowns & Kielbasa  Cheese? Potatoes? Kielbasa? It’s hard to go wrong really.

I love that this dish comes together in less than 10 minutes with minimal effort. I don’t like that it takes almost an hour in the oven to cook because it smells so darn good!


1 – Two pound bag of frozen shredded potatoes

3 Cups shredded cheese (I use Mexican blend), divided in half

1 Medium onion, finely chopped and divided in half

6 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 Cups Chicken stock

1 Cup fat-free sour cream

1 Teaspoon ground black pepper – optional

1/2 Teaspoon salt – optional

1 Package kielbasa franks


Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Melt butter in microwave. Chop onion until it is finely diced and divide into two piles.

In your trusty lasagna / 9 x 13 casserole dish, spray with non-stick cooking spray and then spread half of the frozen shredded potatoes in an even layer on the bottom. Next, take half the diced onion and sprinkle it evenly over the shredded potatoes in your pan.

Take half of your shredded cheese (about 1 1/2 cups) and spread it evenly over the onions and potatoes. Add the rest of your potatoes on top of the cheese layer. Add the rest of your diced onion, sprinkling evenly over the potatoes.

Next, mix together melted butter, chicken stock, and fat free sour cream until sour cream lumps are gone and mixture is a creamy smooth liquid. Add the salt and pepper to this mixture if you prefer. (Sometimes I add them, sometimes I don’t. It’s easy to salt and pepper to taste as you serve so this step is completely optional.)

Pour liquid mixture over casserole, making sure to spread it evenly over the potatoes so they all get some. Finally, add the rest of the shredded cheese in an even layer.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

After 35 minutes, pull the casserole out of the oven and put the kielbasa on top. Put the casserole back in the oven and bake for an additional 25 minutes. NOM!

– Note 1: I love the cheese crispy and a little brown on top (so good!). If you are a bit put off and thinks it looks burned, then wait and add the final layer of cheese right before you put the kielbasa on top, then cover with tin foil to bake for the last 25 minutes. Personally, I love the crunchy goodness, but choose the option that works best for you.

– Note 2: This reheats like a dream. I always have leftovers for lunch the next day and it’s fantastic!





Baked Ziti

Red Sauce

It feels like Italian week around here. We’ve been eating a lot of pasta lately. This is great if you like leftovers. I put the leftovers into wide-mouth glass pint jars (I always use glass jars, never plastic bowls) and send it to work with Mike for his lunch. It reheats wonderfully.

Baked Ziti

Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 45 mins


  • 1 Small Box Penne or Ziti Pasta
  • 1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 Large Can Crushed Tomatoes with Garlic
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilis
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, Divided
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheese Blend (4 or 6 Cheese)
  • 1/4 Cup Butter (1/2 stick), Soft
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put pasta on to boil, cook until not quite done. It should still be a little tough. It will finish cooking in the oven and be perfect. If you boil it to well done, it can turn out mushy after baking. Yuck.

While pasta is boiling, peel and chop onions and garlic. Saute in a large nonstick skillet with ground beef until beef is well done. As beef is browning, break it apart with your spatula until you have small bite-sized or smaller chunks.

Once beef is browning, in a large sauce pan, mix together 1 jar of spaghetti sauce, 1 can crushed tomatoes, and 1 can diced tomatoes.

Tip: The spaghetti sauce I use is rather thick straight out of the jar. I don’t drain the diced tomatoes, just pour the juice and tomatoes all into the sauce. It helps loosen up the sauce without making it runny. If your sauce is already thin, drain the diced tomatoes before adding them.

If you like your pasta saucier, you may want to add a second jar of spaghetti sauce or a second can of crushed tomatoes. I always do because I get very annoyed when I order baked ziti in a restaurant and it comes out dry with very little sauce. If you end up with too much sauce, keep the leftovers in your fridge for pizza sauce.

Mix sauce and tomatoes well and simmer over medium low heat until warm.

If your pasta is done, drain and set aside. Now it’s time to make the cheesy filling.

Add the ricotta cheese to a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese and one cup of the shredded cheese blend. Add the soft (not melted, just soft) butter, the raw egg, and the dried spices. Mix well.

Baked Ziti – Warm and Bubbly

To start building the ziti, spray a large lasagna pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add a very small amount of sauce, maybe a half cup, to the bottom of your pan and spread around.

Drain the grease off your ground beef. Add the beef to the lasagna pan in an even layer. Add one-third to one-half of the remaining sauce to your pan, pouring it slowly over the ground beef so it is evenly distributed.

Next add the cheese filling. Drop it by large spoonfuls onto the sauce and beef. Once you have all the cheese filling in the pan, you can push it around gently with your fingers and pat it down to fill any holes so you have a somewhat even layer of cheese.

Now you want to add your drained pasta directly on top of the cheese mixture. Make an even layer of pasta. Add the remaining sauce over the top of the pasta. Then sprinkle the remaining cup of shredded mozzarella and shredded cheese blend over the top of the sauce.

Bake uncovered in your oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Poor Man’s Spaghetti

My Favorite Spaghetti Sauce

What exactly is poor man’s spaghetti? Growing up in my mom’s kitchen, it meant using jarred sauce instead of sauce made from scratch. It’s a very simple, very quick way to make a delicious meal after a long day at work. There’s really no need for a recipe, but Mike is beginning to cook and he asked for this. My husband asks sweetly? I bend over backwards to make it happen.

Poor Man’s Spaghetti

Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins


  • 1 Large Onion
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce (any basic red sauce will do)
  • 1 Box Thin Spaghetti


Bring large pot of water to boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Peel and chop onion and garlic. In large saute pan, add ground beef, onions, and garlic. Add garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper, salt and ground black pepper. Brown over medium high heat until beef is done. As beef is cooking, break into small chunks.

Quick and easy, but so delicious!

Once beef is well-done, add spaghetti sauce and turn heat to medium low. If sauce is thick, use some of the pasta water to thin to the consistency you prefer.

Cover pan and simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is hot.

Drain pasta and add a scoop to your plate. Add sauce and grated cheese on top to taste.

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